One day when my daughter was around two years old - give or take a few months - I put her down for her afternoon nap. My nearly five-year-old son played and entertained himself nearby. All was quiet. Just a few days before I had returned home from my tole painting class with a new treasure-in-progress. A small canvas on which I had painted a bunch of pansies. Several colors. Blue, yellow, red and purple. A new venture for me to paint on canvas. In oil. I planned to frame and display my work when the oil paint was completely dry. I needed to put it in a safe place until it had dried - a place where it would be protected from dust, things that might fall on it and curious little people! The top of the refrigerator seemed to work. All was fine until the day in question. I chose nap and quiet time that day to take the painting down from the refrigerator top to add a few touches of this and that. To finish my precious painting. I was very happy with my work so far. I could visualize the finished project. Framed. Hanging in a special place in my home.
Final touches were added. I was pleased. But, somehow, I was distracted. I left the kitchen. With the painting on the little table where I had been working on it. A short time later I entered the kitchen to find my little daughter, awake from her nap, dressed in just her T-shirt and underwear, standing on a kitchen chair at the table. I couldn't believe what I saw. I was horrified! Her little mouth and face were covered with paint. Oil paint. Blue, yellow, red and purple! When I looked at my what-had-been-beautiful pansy painting I could hardly believe my eyes. All the colors were smeared. Running together with hardly a sign of form or design left. There she stood, so proud of herself. She had decided to taste it!
After getting her cleaned up, followed by a quick call to the pediatrician's office, it appeared that she had not been affected by the paint. I knew what to watch for and how to handle any adverse affects of her tasting party. But that's not the end of the story! The painting? What did I do with the painting? I remembered how my teacher had helped another student correct a major problem during a recent class. I washed the entire canvas with turpentine, removing anything that was not dry. The main form of the pansies was in tact. The next day I sat at the kitchen table again during nap time. Carefully, so carefully, I redid what had been lost. The pansies looked beautiful again. Soon they would be dry, be framed and on display in my home. This time the background was more colorful than before. This time it included slight smudges of all of the colors of the pansies, stems and leaves. Perfect. As if done on purpose. No one would know it wasn't part of the original plan. I put it up on the refrigerator immediately. No chance for a repeat performace. You can be sure it wasn't going to happen again.
What happened to my daughter? Nothing. She was fine. No sign of any problem. I doubt she has ever tried to taste paint again. What happened to my painting? It dried, was framed in a lovely frame and hung with pride in that home and two others where we lived as she grew up. I always loved the way it turned out - the second time. More than the first. Every time I looked at the painting I not only saw the lovely pansies, I saw my sweet little girl from long ago. Never to be quite the same as the day she tasted the pansies. Unfortunately the painting didn't survive the move to this house. It disappeared. But it will always live in our memories. Memories of a lesson learned. The hard way!
Painted by Pamela Gladding
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